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Golf is the only game in the world in which a precise knowledge of the rules can earn one a reputation for bad sportsmanship.
PATRICK CAMPBELL


    

Thursday
Nov132008

Set Your DVR's For Cape Kidnappers And Stevie's Announcing Debut

Word is the world's richest luggage looper was so good, NBC's rethinking their 11:30 Tonight Show transfer from Leno to Conan.

Just how good was Stevie Williams on the Kiwi Challenge, airing Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm. EST? So good, you won't care that you are getting to see the spectacular Renaissance Golf Design effort at Cape Kidnappers.

Just look at this endorsement from executive producer Jim Walton Jr., courtesy of the saints at Brener-Zwikel:

 Steve Williams was fantastic. One of the great things to look forward to are his pieces traveling around on a helicopter the Robertsons provided. He started in Auckland, then went to the 90 Mile Beach in the north and shot a piece in the rainforest with the oldest and largest living tree in the world. He also released a rare kiwi bird on a preserve the Robertsons set up at Cape Kidnappers.

Okay, I swear I didn't touch Stevie's press release remarks:

On what stood out for him during his debut: “The knowledge and statistics that the commentary team had on every player.”

On how it went for him: “I really enjoyed the experience and have learned a lot about another part of the game.”

Interesting story: “On the thirteenth hole at Kauri Cliffs the moment Hunter Mahan's second shot left the club I knew it was well over the green and my first thought was that it was a bad yardage. But these days, caddies who work for this calibre of player don't make mistakes with yardages. I made the call on air which was a poor call on my behalf, however it was the first thought in my head.”

Ever?

Thursday
Nov132008

Ben and Bill Design To Get A Major?

So says Greg Henry of the Denver branch of Examiner.com. 

Speculation is that the PGA of America will announce it will hold a PGA Championship, the last of golf's four major tournaments, at the new Colorado Golf Club course in Parker, Examiner.com has learned.

PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka and Mike McGetrick, founder and managing partner of Colorado Golf Club, will make a "big announcement" at an 11 a.m. news conference at the club on Nov. 20, according to a press release for PGA of America. The announcement also may include a date for the tournament, which is usually played in August.

Two sources confirmed the announcement would be a "big deal," but refused to elaborate.

One source, who wanted to remain anonymous said, "I'm not at liberty to say anything because I don't want to steal the thunder of the PGA of America. But Joe Steranka doesn't just fly into town for nothing."

And in case you aren't aware, it's a Coore and Crenshaw design and...

The Colorado Golf Club only opened in 2006 and its clubhouse will not be complete until next spring. But the facility already has won a number of accolades from Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Travel & Leisure Golf and Golfweek publications. If the news is true, hosting a PGA championship will only add to the Colorado Golf Club's appeal. Several of Colorado's biggest names, including John Elway, Dave Logan and Jay Cutler, are rumored to be among the members. The club also attracts numerous national and regional business and sports leaders as members in the private club about 27 miles south of downtown Denver.

Imagine Rees, a major played on a course with collapsing bunkers! What's the world coming to?

For more on Colorado Golf Club, check out the club's website. You can also view a gallery of course images.  

The PGA has yet to select a venue for 2014. 

Thursday
Nov132008

ESPN Secures Rights To Open, R&A "Envisaging The Platforms"

I love that they are doing the Walker Cup when it's in the British Isles

Okay ladies and gentleman, roll up your sleeves and tell us about those platforms and other delivery mechanisms. 

For Immediate Publication

THE R&A AND ESPN REACH WIDE-RANGING EIGHT-YEAR AGREEMENT FOR THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

All Four Rounds on ESPN Beginning in 2010 - Expansive Content for Digital Platforms and Expanded International Rights

13 November 2008, St Andrews, Scotland:  The R&A, the organiser of The Open Championship, and ESPN have reached an eight-year agreement that will place all four rounds of The Open Championship live on ESPN beginning in 2010, it was announced by George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc., and ABC Sports and Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A. 

The new pact will also provide broad and comprehensive rights for digital platforms; expanded television and digital media rights for ESPN International; and extensive same-day weekend highlights coverage on ABC. 

ESPN will televise 34 live hours of Championship play over the four days and produce six hours of encore highlights coverage over the weekend, to be broadcast on ABC.  The coverage on ABC will extend The R&A’s relationship with ABC beyond half a century.

Bodenheimer said: “One of the most venerable of all sporting events has embraced the 21st century worldwide media landscape, and we’re thrilled to showcase The Open Championship like never before.  The scope of this deal and the enhancements we obtained offer us tremendous opportunities to serve The R&A and golf fans around the world through any device.”

Dawson said: "It is all important to The R&A that we preserve the traditions of The Open Championship while at the same time ensuring that golf fans are able to enjoy modern state-of-the-art coverage of the event.  We know just how much ESPN respects The Open's heritage and we are very excited by their many innovative plans to cover the Championship across the whole media spectrum, both in the United States and internationally.  We look forward to a long and productive relationship."

Alastair Johnston, IMG Vice Chairman, who led the negotiating team representing The R&A said, "We had to consider not only the financial terms but The R&A's overall mission to promote and develop the game of golf to an evolving global audience.  Envisaging the platforms where a younger generation could be positively influenced to experience The Open Championship over the next decade was a significant factor in assembling this arrangement with ESPN."

Envisaging the platforms...take that Finchem!

The deal also includes exclusive US coverage of all rounds of The Senior Open Championship, which is governed jointly by The R&A and the PGA European Tour, and coverage of the next two Walker Cup matches when contested in the United Kingdom (2011 and 2015).  In all, there will be 90-plus television hours and 40-plus hours of live coverage on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV.  ESPN will provide unprecedented live coverage of the Championships, including the first and second rounds of The Open Championship, which will begin at 5 a.m. ET.  

Wow...now the EST folks will understand what us PST types were going through. Kind of. 

Thursday
Nov132008

Never Logo Your Balls

Thanks to reader Chris for this Emily Gosden story in The Times detailing £12,000 spent by government ministers on golf balls. 

The top-of-the-range balls have been handed out to wealthy businessmen as part of efforts to promote Britain’s trade links.

The £12,030 bill emerged after a Tory MP ventured into the rough at his Surrey golf course and discovered a golf ball branded UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). Humfrey Malins, MP for Woking, asked the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, which funds UKTI, to reveal the full extent of its spending on golf balls.

“It is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Mr Malins, who captains the parliamentary golf team. “To think that the Government has been spending over £4,000 a year on golf balls is quite ridiculous.”

Ministers defended the spending, which they said had been used as “corporate gifts for business leaders at events such as the PGA Merchandising Show in the US”. Businessmen have also been teeing off with government-funded Titleist golf balls distributed at events in Canada, Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and “a small number of occasions in the Middle East”.

Ah, now I know why they were so expensive. Errr...because they had to ship them all over the world! 

Thursday
Nov132008

Trump National Monterey Peninsula Airport!

Oh wait, I'm sorry, just TNMP. But the airport landing pattern right by the Nicklaus-designed Pasadera Country Club. Thankfully, The Donald wants to buy it, as Marie Vasari reports.  

No deal has been signed, but Trump met with Pasadera's members last week to outline his vision for the private golf club, confirmed Larry Glick, vice president of strategic development for the Trump Organization.

"Yes, there's interest," said Glick. "I love the area, it's premium land, and I think it would fit great for the Trump brand."

Pasadera is attractive on many fronts, said Glick: Not only the course and its clubhouse, but the surrounding area and the course's proximity to Monterey Peninsula Airport.

Glick wouldn't disclose what the company might pay for the golf club, other than to say "we're getting it at a very good price," nor the sum the Trump Organization intends to sink into improvements.

Those improvements would include course beautification and the addition of some trees, he said, along with a new name — Trump National Golf Club Monterey Peninsula.

The peninsula will never be the same.

The private club is owned by Lee Newell, Fred Bates and Tom de Regt through their Monterey-based New Cities Development Group. They purchased the development in late 1997 from an East Coast group.

Pasadera Country Club is situated on 565 acres off Monterey-Salinas Highway, with a 38,000-square-foot clubhouse with dining and conference facilities, a fitness center, a swimming pool and tennis courts. Its par-71 golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Golf memberships start at $120,000, social memberships at $25,000.

"The Monterey area is optimal for us," said Glick. "I get about 50 proposals over my desk each month, and if I look at one, it's a lot."

Wait, didn't Gordon Gekko say that to Bud in Wall Street about Bluestar Airlines? And we know how well that turned out.

Thursday
Nov132008

"Bad economy or not, the silence has been as deafening as it is surprising."

Gary Van Sickle profiles Paul Azinger and learns that the victorious Ryder Cup Captain has not been inundated with offers.

Azinger is riding the wave, a crest that he says is more powerful than anything he felt after winning the 1993 PGA Championship, his lone major title. He has Ryder Cup in his blood and it's running hot, so don't blame him if he can't — or won't — let go of his Valhalla moments.

A U.S. Open victory is said to be worth millions in off-course opportunities. Not so the Ryder Cup. Azinger says he hasn't received a single offer post-Valhalla — even his equipment deal is set to expire at year's end. Bad economy or not, the silence has been as deafening as it is surprising.

Sorry, but Azinger continued his pre-Ryder Cup media blackout well after the Cup, turning down a Tonight Show appearance and probably many other publicity opportunities. In a world with a depressingly short attention span, you have to capitalize on the moment. Azinger passed. 

Thursday
Nov132008

"When someone says 'Lorena' I think of the way she opens up all her press conferences with a 'hello everybody.'"

Kevin Baxter profiles Lorena Ochoa for the L.A. Times and focuses on her humility. Naturally, The Brand Lady offered a profound insight:

Adds LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens: "When someone says 'Lorena' I think of the way she opens up all her press conferences with a 'hello everybody.' I would say that's pretty unusual for a world's No. 1 athlete in any sport. It's one thing to do it as part of a public persona. It's another thing to be a very authentic role model."

Saying "hello everybody" in the press room makes her an authentic role model?

Wednesday
Nov122008

"Bankruptcy is another matter, however."

Steve Elling makes a case for why it'll be hard for companies to justify spending government bailout money on PGA Tour sponsorships.

But even more interesting was this item, which may punch a hole in the PGA Tour's "ironclad" contract status and gloating.

Six automakers sponsor events on the PGA Tour, including two by Buick, which is hemorrhaging money so quickly, it might not make it to the end of the year. Bankruptcy is an increasingly likely scenario, according to the automaker, which could and should jeopardize the two Buick stops on the '09 tour calendar.

Understand that when the tour signs a deal with a title sponsor, it is written in blood. Just because Wachovia and Buick are in hot water doesn't mean the tour contracts are void or that financial details will be changed. The suits at tour headquarters play hardball. Tournaments must buy their way out of deals if they wish to escape before the contract term runs its course.

Bankruptcy is another matter, however.

"That would really be the one scenario where we would consider (voiding a contract)," tour communications chief Ty Votaw said two weeks ago at the Ginn sur Mer Classic, an event that is on life support because of the swan-diving real-estate market. "And if that was to transpire, we'd be standing there in line along with all the other creditors." 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Par Mates Are Here!

Thanks to reader Chema for news of this classy, much needed effort to grow the game at Las Vegas' Royal Links.

Attention Eliot Spitzer: I know you are mostly a tennis man, but I think it's time to take up the Royal and Ancient!

From the Par Mates page, where you can learn more about these Rhodes Scholars:

Par Mates are extremely attractive and outgoing young ladies / girl caddies that will keep the golfers company during their round and help with course arrangements like orientation, introduction to course personnel, call in food and beverage orders, maintaining scorecards, shopping assistance in the golf shop and other services designed to replicate the five-star assistance provided by major hotel concierges staff. They’ll even repair divots, fix ball marks, clean balls, clean clubs and help with yardage, ball flight and obstacles. Additionally they will serve as your personal hostesses during the round to eliminate any hassles or drudgeries and make the experience more pleasant, enjoyable and fun. 


Cost: $225 per caddy
Booking Requirements: 72 hours in advance of your tee time

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

"We are disciplined in our approach to negotiating programming rights"

You can't blame Turner for pulling out of the R&A sweepstakes when the dollar figure is at $25 million, but the timing of their press release seems odd. Perhaps they want to make sure ESPN knows that no one else is bidding? 

Don't the folks at Turner understand we all lost interest in them when they sent Bobby Clampett packing?
 

Turner Sports Declines to extend TV rights with the R&A for The Open

Turner’s 7-year deal with the R & A culminates with TNT’s coverage of the 2009 British Open Championship from Turnberry, Scotland, July 16 -19

Statement from David Levy – President of Turner Sports

"We are disciplined in our approach to negotiating programming rights. While we were unable to reach terms on future rights that made economic sense for our company, we respect and value the R&A and our partnership of the past six years, and look forward to TNT's final year of covering The Open."

Turner Sports will air approximately 28 hours of the 2009 Open Championship on TNT during its four days of coverage. TNT will also continue to air approximately 17 hours of golf’s final major, the PGA Championship, with this year’s event taking place August 12-16, from Hazeltine National Golf Club inChaska, MN. TNT will also air in 2009 the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the toughest event in the sport to qualify for with only that year’s major winners receiving an automatic invitation. The 2009 PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be held at the Port Royal Golf Course on Oct. 20 & 21. Turner Sports also operates and manages two of golf’s premier Web sites in PGATour.com and PGA.com. 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Compton Opens With 70

Steve Elling reports on Erik Compton's opening round 70 at second stage, while Adam Schupak sat down with Compton for this Golfweek.com Q&A. 

 

Wednesday
Nov122008

Poulter Too Distraught To Play On After Driver Theft

I didn't pay much attention to the story about Ian Poulter getting his driver stolen at the HSBC until he pulled out of the European Tour event in Singapore citing the theft and the inability of Cobra to get him a replacement.

"I am really gutted," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I have been thinking about it for four hours and I have decided to withdraw because my new driver will not arrive on time.

And the real fault lies with...the OWGR!

"It is disappointing because I did not come all this way not to play. But with so many world ranking points at stake, if I played badly (by using a different driver) I may have lost ground."

He couldn't get it around for 18 holes without either a fill in or his version of a 3-wood?

Wednesday
Nov122008

“One walk here, Tiger put down 22,000 steps [on his pedometer]"

Tom Cunneff fills us in on Tiger's press conference to unveil The Cliffs' design Included is a full color course rendering with a disclaimer I've never seen before (but probably wise): "Artist rendering subject to change."

Naturally, I will be getting some mileage (pun fully intended) out of this: 

Several site visits also helped Woods with his rehabilitation from the knee surgery he underwent days after winning the U.S. Open in June. He and Anthony, a noted outdoorsman, went on long strolls around the property.

“One walk here, Tiger put down 22,000 steps [on his pedometer],” said Anthony. “And to show you his enthusiasm, he just had his operation on his knee, and we've got this big group of boulders out here, and so Tiger's climbing up on these boulders, and jumping from one to the other. I'm thinking the whole time, he's going to fall off, and I see the headlines: 'Tiger re-injures knee on a High Carolina rock pile.'”

The bigger headline, were it true, would have been: "Tiger Charges By The Step!" But I guess he was humoring boss Jim Anthony, who gives pedometers out like they're business cards.

Wednesday
Nov122008

The Golf Club of California Closes

Thanks to reader Scott for Tod Leonard's extensive and fascinating look at the demise of The Golf Club of California, which closed its doors November 1. 

The moral of this story: don't let home developers design golf courses. Or run them.

Wednesday
Nov122008

Deep Thoughts

On the news that American Express is seeking $3.5 billion in government funds because the company packaged pools of credit card debt and sold them to investors in the securitization market (good one!), I'm just wondering if (A) this means we won't get those incredibly cool little TV's at majors and (B) if this is part of the USGA's education in improved business practices. 

After all, in Walter Driver's 2007 President's letter, he wrote that the USGA was "learning from our corporate partner, American Express, how to be more responsive and tailored to our individual Members."

Maybe they're packaging pools of lousy handicaps to investors in the secularization market?

Wednesday
Nov122008

“We do say he created the course"

The Perthshire Advertiser's Gordon Bannerman reports on the new design credit for Jack Nicklaus's Gleneagles Centenary Course, home to the 2014 Ryder Cup. You may recall that players were not too fond of David Kidd's redo. Include Jack in that category.

But it has emerged that Nicklaus isn’t impressed with Gleneagles playing around with his original design, which opened on the “finest parcel of land I have ever been given to work with” back in 1993.

The Golden Bear is growling over Gleneagles tampering with the original design without his knowledge or input. It barely rates a mention on his website, which profiles the many Nicklaus Signature courses which have emerged around the globe.

Now, instead of billing it as a course designed by Jack Nicklaus, Gleneagles flag it up as being “created” by the golfing legend.

A spokeswoman for Gleneagles said: “Jack Nicklaus designed the course for us in the early 90s.

“In the last few years and in the build up to being the hosts for the Ryder Cup, we have had another designer tweak a few holes.

“We do say he created the course and we have an ongoing relationship with the Jack Nicklaus organisation.”

Tuesday
Nov112008

Golf Digest Break 100 Thing Returns; World's Haikuist's Rejoice Over Six Word Entry Essay

Because it's un-American to let a highly-rated, all-around hugely successful thing die, the folks at Golf Digest, NBC and the USGA are bringing back the Golf Digest Challenge.

But there's a catch: last year's 100-word essays were too long-winded, so this time around the Digest editorial team will only have to consume 56,000 six-word submissions. Oh, and those "encouraged" videos (wink, wink).

My gut says the 100-word essay was not eliminated to keep Craig Bestrom from smashing his Macbook after reading 6,000,000 inane words. No, I think it's to protect Bestrom from my multiple entries on the sheer hideousness of Rees Jones's remodeled 18th hole at Bethpage Black (pictured, left...but don't stare at it too long...it may cause macular degeneration).

Still, I've sketched out a few six word entries and was hoping you might tell me which of the following has the best chance of winning. And of course, feel free to post your own below should you need some friendly feedback.

Okay, here we go.

In the blatant rear-end kissing division:

  • Jerry Tarde is God...pick me

Garnering sympathy category:

  • One golfer, in spite of himself.
  • Viagra doesn't work for me anymore.

I missed my calling as a not-as-clever-as-I-think ad executive, division:

  • Intelligently designed to break one hundred.
  • Live free, work hard, break 100.

  • Six words is the new 100.

The I-am-perfect-for-a-reality show mindset:

  • I am a narcissist...pick me.
  • Because everyone else pretty much sucks.
  • My dying wish: meet Mark Rolfing.

Inane, cliched and apparently never going away Mastercard rip-off category:

  • Knowing I might break 100? Priceless.

Homage to President-elect Obama:

  • Fired up and ready to go!

And I'll let your imagination determine where this goes...

  • Once you go Bethpage Black, you...

Tuesday
Nov112008

"He still takes seven or eight pricy anti-rejection medications every day"

Steve Elling reports on Erik Compton starting Q-school second stage Wednesday and notes:

A newlywed with a baby girl due in late February, he told CBSSports.com on Sunday that he pays $600 a month for health insurance through the bridge program called Cobra, designed to fill gaps in coverage when workers are between jobs. He said it expires in six months and after that, he'll be scrambling for answers. His 14-hour heart surgery last May 20 and resulting hospital stay cost $1 million, he estimated. He still takes seven or eight pricy anti-rejection medications every day, he said.

Tuesday
Nov112008

"I'm delighted to say that the demise of the PGA Tour has been overstated considerably"

In noting the slight total purse increase for the 2009 PGA Tour schedule, an unbylined ESPN.com story includes this:

"I'm delighted to say that the demise of the PGA Tour has been overstated considerably," commissioner Tim Finchem said Monday night at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Getting cocky are we? 

Bob Harig breaks down the schedule changes here.

Tuesday
Nov112008

SI, Golf Magazine Buyout Offer

Richard Perez-Pena reports on a request of 100 volunteers for a buyout at Time Inc. and notes:

Hardest hit in the first round is the group that includes Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids and Golf magazines. In a memorandum to his staff, Terry McDonell, managing editor of Sports Illustrated, asked for 40 people to leave voluntarily, out of an editorial staff at the magazine group of about 250 people.